A Staten Island veteran is looking to raise money and awareness for Team Red, White and Blue, an organization that helps wounded war vets, by running the New York City Marathon. NY1’s Amanda Farinacci filed the following report.
Michele Gonzalez is running the New York City Marathon to publicize and help raise money for Team Red, White and Blue, an organization dedicated to helping wounded vets find their way back into society.
The 30-year-old veteran of the Army’s intelligence unit in Iraq had mixed reaction to the news that the war she served in will soon be over.
“I think it's good news for soldiers that were over there or slotted to go over there and their families. I just hope that, you know, everything we set out to do in Iraq is actually done or at least on their way to being done, otherwise all the time that's been spent there would have been for naught,” says Gonzalez.
Gonzalez spent over six years away from her famly on three separate tours of duty.
It was on her third tour, in which she was stationed in Baghdad for 15 months, that she really felt the stress of war and being away from home.
She turned to running.
“I needed that break everyday, to just get out the door,” says Gonzalez.
When she came home in 2009, she was used to running every day. She laced up her sneakers all the way until the day before she gave birth to her son, AJ, 10 months ago.
Now, she's training for the marathon and an “ultra,” an elite running event that's nearly 38 miles long.
Gonzalez racks up most of her training miles by running along the water between South Beach and Midland beach.
She says there are some elements there that remind her of her of her long runs in Baghdad.
“Iraq, where I was running was extremely flat, so in some regards, the boardwalk does remind me of that, and then there were days where it was extremely windy, so running with the wind, I'm actually pretty used to running with a strong wind,” says Gonzalez.
She says she's hoping for optimal marathon weather — not too hot and not too cool — on a day that thousands of people can come out and cheer her on, hopefully with the wind at her back.